Philippines Typhoon: Southland Filipino community mobilizing to raise funds in aftermath of Haiyan (photos, map)

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The vicious typhoon that raged through the center of the Philippines appears to have killed hundreds, if not thousands of people, and officials were reportedly struggling Sunday to distribute aid to survivors left homeless and destitute. It's feared the death toll could reach 10,000 people, the Associated Press reports. the full extent of the damage is still being assessed. Check back for updates.

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Updates
Update 4:01 p.m.: US sends aid, Pope offers prayer
 
The U.S. Navy is sending aircraft and ships to assist in the Philippines' recovery effort. In a press release issued Sunday, the Department of Defense said U.S. forces will focus on search and rescue efforts:
 

The support, provided at the request of the Philippines government, will initially focus on surface maritime search and rescue, medium-heavy helicopter lift support, airborne maritime SAR, fixed-wing lift support and logistics enablers, officials said.

DOD is working in coordination with the U.S. Agency for International Development and U.S. ambassador in Manila, they said, and will continue to monitor the effects of Typhoon Haiyan while standing ready to help the Philippines recover from the monster storm.

President Obama also issued a statement offering condolences to those who were hit by the storm:
 
Michelle and I are deeply saddened by the loss of life and extensive damage done by Super Typhoon Yolanda. But I know the incredible resiliency of the Philippine people, and I am confident that the spirit of Bayanihan will see you through this tragedy. The United States is already providing significant humanitarian assistance, and we stand ready to further assist the Government's relief and recovery efforts. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the millions of people affected by this devastating storm.
Pope Francis addressed a crowd at the Vatican and offered a prayer to the people affected by Friday's storm and called for "practical help" for the survivors: 
 

Update 3:30 p.m.: Looting reported in hardest hit areas

 
The Philippine Red Cross has said looting and some violence in one of the hardest hit areas of the Philippines has made it difficult for the to distribute aid. 
 
In the city of Tacloban, located in the hard-hit Leyte Island, the AP reports aid from the charity organization was met with panic: 
 

The Philippine National Red Cross said its efforts were hampered by looters, including some who attacked trucks of food and other relief supplies it was shipping to Tacloban from the southern port of Davao.

Tacloban's two largest malls and grocery stores were looted, and police guarded a fuel depot. About 200 police officers were sent into Tacloban to restore law and order.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, the AP reports, is considering declaring a state of emergency or martial law in the city, possibly imposing curfews and military checkpoints.
 
More video surfaced on Sunday, showing the ferocity of the storm and the damage it caused: 

Video: Typhoon Haiyan

Update 1:11 p.m.: Consulate says best way to help is to wire money

The Counsel General of the Philippines in Los Angeles says the best way to assist in the country's recovery effort. 

Hellen Barber De La Vega told KPCC's Ashley Bailey that as the country assesses its needs and where to direct funding, wiring cash to reliable organizations is the best way to make sure it's spent well:  

"Money is the most flexible donation at the moment," De La Vega said. "We were told they were still making an assessment of the exact needs of our people because, as you probably know, most lines are cut off, communications are cut off" in the hardest hit provinces. 

KPCC has a listing of reliable philanthropic organizations you can check. 

De La Vega said Friday's typhoon has exacerbated the needs of communities who were recently pummeled by other catastrophic events. 

"The intensity of this typhoon was really just too much," she said. "Last month on October 12 we also had the typhoon — Typhoon Santi — then thee days after that there was a 7.4 magnitude [earthquake] that struck central Visayas as well. Some of these places were also affected by the same super typhoon that struck the Philippines last Friday." 

Update 12:20 p.m.: Southland Filipino community mobilizing to raise funds 

In Van Nuys, about 300 people participated in a 5k fundraiser walk that had initially been planned to help the islands recover from a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that killed 222 people on Oct. 15, City News Service reported. But the run took on new urgency in the aftermath of Friday's deadly typhoon. 

(Bing De La Vega, L, and Ruth Ann Stewart, R, of Encino helped organize Sunday's fundraiser. Photo: Frank Stoltze/ KPCC) 

KPCC's Frank Stoltze spoke with organizer Bing De La Vega, 54, of Hancock Park, who works with the Philippine Disaster Relief Organization, known as PeDRO. De La Vega said the magnitude of the storm and the death toll they've experienced is unlike anything in the country's history.

"The Filipino community is coming together to do fundraising," he said. "And certainly there will be more in the next few weeks." 

Ruth Ann Stewart, 40, of Encino was also at the event.The president of Romah, another Filipino philanthropic organization, she said the province of Bohol and Iloilo City may have sustained the most damage. She's lost contact with family members there. 

"I have no communication whatsoever with them because there's a total blackout and no electricity. So there's no communication — Facebook or phone or anything like that for that matter." 

Stewart’s family came to the U.S. in 1992. She’s traveled to the Philippines a number of times since then.

“I know people are survivors of these types of situations,” she said. “But this is completely different from things that have happened in the past.”

At the tiny Filipino Disciples Christian Church in Little Filipinotown near downtown L.A., people prayed for victims and survivors of the typhoon. They also conducted a rummage sale over the weekend – it too was originally planned to help earthquake victims.

(Pastor Einstein Cabalteja of Filipino Disciples Christian Church near downtown L.A. Photo: Frank Stoltze/ KPCC)

Pastor Einstein Cabalteja said they raised $200.

"I know that this is not very much for this great calamity, but at least we started," he said.

The Southland's Filipino community tops 330,000. It's among the largest such communities in the United States.

Update 8:34 a.m.: Thousands feared dead after deadly typhoon slams Philippines

Deaths in the province of Leyte — mainly from drowning and collapsed buildings — could escalate to 10,000, the regional police chief told the AP. The administrator of the province capital, Tacloban, said the toll could climb that high in the city alone.

"The devastation is, I don't have the words for it," Interior Minister Mar Roxas told the AP after touring Tacloban on Saturday. "It's really horrific. It's a great human tragedy."

Typhoon Haiyan packed sustained winds of 147 mph as it hit the Philippines on Friday, with gusts up to 170 mph.

RELATEDTyphoon Haiyan/Yolanda: How to find loved ones, donate and volunteer

The official fatality count is still 151, as we reported yesterday, but is certain to go exponentially higher. There "will be substantially more casualties" than the current figure, said President Benigno Aquino, who is to visit the devastated area today. "We are not prepared to say how much more at this point in time, because that is also being collated," The New York Times reported.

The storm weakened Sunday to 101 mph with gusts of 170 mph as it sped toward Vietnam, where it is expected to land by Monday morning. More than half a million people have been evacuated there.

In the Philippines, eyewitnesses reported storm surges as high as trees and winds that sounded like roar of jet engines. A BBC correspondent said looting was widespread as the area was left without food, clean water and electricity.

Hundreds are crowding the Tacloban airport, which was mostly flattened and left a muddy wasteland by the ferocious winds, trying to find flights out of the region, the BBC reported.

"The rescue operation is ongoing. We expect a very high number of fatalities as well as injured," Roxas told the AP. "All systems, all vestiges of modern living — communications, power, water — all are down. Media is down, so there is no way to communicate with the people in a mass sort of way."

Haiyan is the third Category 5 typhoon to hit the Philippines since 2010, meteorologist Jeff Masters of the Weather Underground told USA Today.
As meteorologists collect and analyze data from Haiyan, they could conclude it was the strongest cyclone ever at landfall, according to Accuweather.com.

A hot zone for natural calamities, the island nation may be slammed with more misery later this week. Accuweather is tracking a tropical disturbance which may evolve into a tropical storm and is expected to land midweek, bringing heavy rains and disrupting recovery efforts.

You can view a live map of Haiyan's route here: 

 

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